For high schoolers, many deadlines for applying to colleges are quickly approaching.
Friday is the last date for students to register to take the first administration of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in 2020. The American College Testing (ACT) website shows the registration deadline for the second ACT test of 2020 will be Feb. 28.
However, how does a student know which test they should take to best get into their school of choice? Stefanie Toye, director of tutoring at Collegewise Academic Services, explained colleges normally don't put a precedence on a certain test. So, students are free to take whichever test they would like.
Toye explained that, often times, though most universities now do not have a preference for which test a student takes, many high schools offer the Practice SAT (PSAT) in a student's junior year. With that, students can look at their PSAT score and see if they are comfortable with the SAT format or if they want to take the ACT. Students may also take a free practice ACT on the ACT website.
Toye said there are a few differences between the tests that students should be aware of, so that they can best choose which test is better for them. She explained the SAT has a lot more time than the ACT, which averages less than a minute for one question. Toye explained, if a student struggles with time restraints, they may be better off taking the SAT.
Another difference between the two tests that Toye noted was the availability of free resources that go along with the tests. She said since the SAT is administered by the college board they have a lot of free resources. She explained they have released a few full length tests and have also teamed up with Khan Academy.
"When considering cost and preparation, there are a lot more options for the SAT," Toye said.
But, she does not believe that free preparation is the only way to go when a student is getting themselves ready for either test. She explained a lot of students aren't able to do self study. So, she recommends students work with small groups or one on one either in person or by online tutoring.
Toye also said there is a slight difference in the cost of taking either the ACT or the SAT, but she did not think the difference was enough to sway a student one way or the other. She also mentioned the cost of either test would change depending on whether or not a student wanted to take the writing portion of the test that each offer. Toye said most schools do not require the writing portion of either test and so that decision is completely up to the student.
According to the ACT website, taking the ACT test without the writing portion costs $52 and with the writing portion it will cost $68. According to the College Readiness website, the SAT without the writing portion costs $49.50 while the SAT with the writing portion costs $64.50.
So, whether a student should take the ACT or the SAT is completely up to them. Toye said students should prepare themselves by taking both the practice ACT and the PSAT and figure out which test they are stronger one and choose that test.